Free Press Journal

Proposal to buy torpedos from AgustaWestland’s sister concern


New Delhi: A week before cancelling the VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland, the Defence Ministry had approved a long-pending Navy proposal for buying heavy-weight torpedos from the Italian company’s sister concern to be considered by the Cabinet Committee on Security.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in its meeting on December 23 approved a proposal worth around Rs 1,800 crore for buying ‘Black Shark’ torpedos from WASS, a Finmeccanica group firm, and now it has to go through several procedures before getting the final clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security, sources said here.

Both AgustaWestland and Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) are companies of Italian defence group Finmecannica. The Ministry cancelled the chopper deal with Agusta on January 1 for breach of pre-contract integrity pact.

The procurement process for torpedos is still pending and a final decision is yet to be taken, Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.

He was responding to reports suggesting that the Defence Ministry has struck a deal with the Italian firm for procuring the torpedos.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar attacked the Defence Ministry for approving the deal in the DAC alleging the Congress government was trying to compensate the Anglo-Italian firm.

“This seems to be the new way of the Congress government to give the company (AgustaWestland) a new order as compensation,” he told PTI over phone.

There have been several complaints against the particular torpedo deal as many MPs had written to the Defence Ministry alleging deviation from the laid-down procedures during trials.

These complaints were sent by the Defence Ministry to the Central Vigilance Commission for its comments and investigations into the procedures followed in the deal. The torpedos are to be fitted on the under construction Scorpene submarines of the Navy.

There have been many instances where Services’ procurement proposals have been cleared by the  DAC but they have not been finalised several years after getting Ministry sanction.

The procurement of Ultra Light Howitzers is one such high-profile case which was cleared by the DAC in 2011 but is far from being inked between India and the US due to several reasons.